Walking And Stress Reactivity In Kids

Teaching kids to walk to school may actually be beneficial. A recent study suggests that a simple morning walk to school during school days can help curb increases in heart rate and pressure in kids that can potentially lead to cardiovascular disease later in life.

According to researchers from the University at Buffalo, kids who took a simulated walk to school experienced smaller elevations in systolic blood pressure, heart rate and in perceived stress when taking a short exam as compared to kids who have taken a simulated ride to school. Cardiovascular disease is known to start developing around childhood. Being able to slow down the process would provide an important health benefit, according to James Roemmich, UB associate professor of pediatrics and exercise and nutrition science and senior investigator on the said study.

Roemmich and his team evaluated a group composed of 40 Caucasian kids aged 10 to 14 years old. All the participants visited the Behavioral Medicine Research Laboratory in the morning. Half of the participants were made to undergo a simulated ride to school which consists of a 10-minute slide that show images of a suburban neighborhood that ended with an image of a suburban school. The other half underwent a one-mile walk on a treadmill on a self-selected pace while wearing a bag containing 10 percent of their body weight. As the kids walk, a similar slide was also being shown on a screen.

After a 20-minute break, the participants were made to take the Stroop test, which requires subjects to identify the color of color names that is printed in the wrong color. On average, the participating kids experienced an increase of heart rate- about 3 beats per minute for the kids who walked and 11 beats per minute for those kids who went through a simulated ride to school. The rise in systolic blood pressure was 3 times higher and the level of change in perceived stress was around 2 times as high for those who were passive commuters.

Roemmich says,”The perception of a stressor as a threat is the beginning of the stress reactivity process, so if you can dampen that initial perception, then you reduce the magnitude of the fight-or-flight response. This results in lower heart rate and blood pressure responses to the stressor. Exercise helped dampen even the initial response,” he further adds.

Source: http://www.dlife.com/diabetes-news/content/walking-school-could-reduce-stress-reactivity-kids


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